Castillo San Felipe Del Morro

Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery
Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery
Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery
Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery
Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery
Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery
Outside the Fortress
Outside the Fortress
Castillo San Felipe del Morro
Castillo San Felipe del Morro
Castillo San Felipe del Morro
Castillo San Felipe del Morro
Castillo San Felipe del Morro
Castillo San Felipe del Morro
Castillo San Felipe del Morro
Castillo San Felipe del Morro
Castillo San Felipe del Morro
Castillo San Felipe del Morro
Castillo San Felipe del Morro
Castillo San Felipe del Morro
Castillo San Felipe del Morro
Castillo San Felipe del Morro
View from the Fortress
View from the Fortress
Sunset from the Paseo Del Morro
Sunset from the Paseo Del Morro
Sunset from the Paseo Del Morro
Sunset from the Paseo Del Morro

The fortress is one of the most impressive and most popular historic site on the island, encapsulating Puerto Rico’s role as a guardian of the New World. Anyone who visits Old San Juan simply cannot leave without visiting El Morro. Within these walls, you could easily sense the awesome power this bastion of defense once commanded, and you can bear witness to nearly half a century of military history that began with the Spanish conquistadores and ended with World War II. It’s an amazing structure coupled with stunning views of the ocean.

Condado Beach, Puerto Rico

View from our room
View from our room
Condado Beach
Condado Beach
Sunrise
Sunrise
Sunrise
Sunset from our room
Overcast Day
Overcast Day

Condado Beach is a beach that extends for several miles east of downtown Old San Juan. It is lined with high-rise resorts and populated with sun worshippers. This part of San Juan is perfect for tourists. The beach is nice, clean and the water is warm and crystal clear. The main street (Ashford Avenue) has plenty of restaurants and shops. However, I must say that I’ve been to Bahamas and I’ve been to the South Pacific. I am from Australia. Given that, this Beach is pretty average to me.

Macau

St Paul's Ruins, Macau
Tourists at St Paul’s Ruins
Bicycles
Bicycles
Senado Square
Senado Square
Hotel Security Guard
Hotel Security Guard
Laneway
Laneway
Fisherman's Wharf
Fisherman’s Wharf

I went to Macau as a side trip from my Hong Kong visit. Macau is a city of contrast. The city has the fortresses, churches and food of its former colonial master Portugal and on the other, Macau is unashamedly and popularly known as the Las Vegas of the East. It took an hour ferry ride to get to Macau. As soon as we got off the ferry, the poorer infrastructure and facilities were evident by the stench around the wharf and unhygienic toilet facilities. We were greeted by many overbearing overseas Filipino workers desperately moonlighting as tourist guides.

The Portuguese influence is evident in the main part of the city. They have cobbled back streets, baroque churches, stone fortresses, Art Deco buildings and restful parks and gardens. The fusion of East and West in culture and architecture is interestingly unique. The architecture of the casinos were mostly Las Vegas copies. Given that I have been to Las Vegas myself and have seen the real deal, the sight of the casinos in Macau made me feel that they were almost like fake designer copies. It’s not a city I would recommend as a must-see But if you are in Hong Kong. Macau is another city to see to add to your travel tally.

TIP: You can use the free casino transports to go around the town. You can take them from the Port and from the casinos.

Hong Kong

Red Ferry in a Hazy Day
Red Ferry in a Hazy Day
Busy Night in Kowloon
Busy Night in Kowloon
Kowloon at Night
Kowloon at Night
Souvenir Dolls
Souvenir Dolls
Street Sign
Street Sign
Typical Street
Typical Street
Hazy Day from Victoria Peak
Hazy Day from Victoria Peak
Neon Signs at Night
Neon Signs at Night

I have never really thought of Hong Kong as a major destination but a place to chill and break the 24-hour flight before a more desirable journey to Europe. It is a place with multiple personalities, as a result of being both Cantonese Chinese and under a contemporary ex-British influence. The mixture of both cultures are evident in most aspects of the city and its people.

My initial acquaintance with Hong Kong was a bit overwhelming. I had to quickly learn how to navigate around the tightly packed and crowded sidewalks with neon signages at every corner that almost looks like a red light district minus the girls selling male gratification.

The city is surprisingly safe and wonderfully well organised. It offers multiple moments of designer shopping perfection and if you can’t afford the real deal, there are plenty of copies at bargain prices at the markets.

Hong Kong also offers simple pleasures of affordable cultural experiences like a $2 tram or ferry ride, tasty authentic Chinese food from the side streets restaurants, a whiff of incense curling from temple rafters, savouring fishing-village sundowners and fresh seafood – that are wonderful experiences of priceless memories.

I must say that there are many historic and interesting things to do and see from Disneyland to Fishing Villages to Chinese Temples and the rest. But I didn’t do all that. I was there to go shopping.

TIP: When buying electronics goods, make sure that you know exactly which model you want to get and your local price for that model. They are not necessarily cheaper in Hong Kong particularly if you are an ignorant tourist. Some shop assistants are opportunists.

Negril

Negril Beach, Jamaica
Negril Beach, Jamaica
Negril Beach, Jamaica
Negril Beach, Jamaica
Slice of Heaven
Slice of Heaven
Negril Beach
Negril Beach
My Spot
My Spot
Glassbottom Boat
Glassbottom Boat
Souvenirs
Souvenirs
Negril Beach
Negril Beach

Negril is a small lively town in Jamaica which is only about one hour and fifteen minutes drive from Sir Donald Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay. If you want to party in Jamaica, it is the best place to be. The laid back and relaxed atmosphere during the day transforms into a reggae and energetic dance parties at night. The small town features a calm 11km-long white sandy beach with eternally warm crystal-clear turquoise coloured water which is apparently rated as one of the top ten beaches in the world. The town is populated with many resorts along beautiful cliffs where you can watch the vivid colour palette of orange and yellow sunsets. It is one of the best sunsets I’ve seen in my life. Given that tourism is the main livelihood in this town, there is a friendly rapport between the visitors and locals, however, as a tourist (–like in any other popular touristy part of the world), be prepared to be treated like a walking wallet. Every Jamaican hustler would want a share of your dollar. Be wary but enjoy the tourist ride.

Our time in Negril was short. We hired a driver and his van for the day to take us around Negril and at the end of the day, we could see the famous 35-feet cliff diving by the locals and tourists alike as well as the world famous breathtaking sunset from Rick’s Cafe. The Cafe is located right on the cliff. It has a bar, a restaurant and a pool which boast a spectacular view of the ocean. It was amazing to watch the brave tourist cliff-divers and the Rick’s Cafe’s skilled divers showing off their daring talent. Watching the risky diving would certainly put back ‘awe’ in awesome. It’s a thrilling experience in itself. The local divers ask for donations and would only jump when they have received enough.

TIP: It is strongly recommended that you arrive at the Cafe in time for sunset or even earlier to grab a good spot at the bar. It can get extremely busy as the sunset is a popular tourist destination in itself and there are many tours that do just that. The sunset ambience presents true Jamaican vibe whilst you listen to a live reggae band playing in the background.

Rick's Cafe
Rick’s Cafe
Read before diving
Read before diving
Ready to dive
Ready to dive
Tourists
Tourists
Locals
Locals
Rick's Cafe (Google Image)
Rick’s Cafe (Google Image)
Rick's Cafe, Negril, Jamaica
Sunset from Rick’s Cafe, Negril, Jamaica
Sunset Watchers Crowd
Sunset Watchers Crowd
Sunset
Sunset

Montego Bay

Glass-bottom Boat, Montego Bay, Jamaica
Glass-bottom Boat, Montego Bay, Jamaica
Jerk Chicken
Jerk Chicken
Ready for a game of golf...
Ready for a game of golf…
Sailing away...
Sailing away…
Can I stay here forever?
Can I stay here forever?
The Lifeguard is missing
The Lifeguard is missing
Free Kayaks ride
Free Kayaks ride
Glass Bottom Boat
Glass Bottom Boat
Funny Souvenir
Funny Souvenir
Waiting for Lovebirds
Waiting for Lovebirds
Early morning walk
Early morning walk
Beach Chairs Bliss
Beach Chairs Bliss

Montego Bay is a slice of tropical paradise in Jamaica and it is popularly known for its energetic vibe, its natural beauty and its friendly and relaxed Rastafarian culture. You can easily picture yourself soaking up the sunny vivid blue sky on perfectly white sandy beaches whilst cooling down with scrumptious Bob Marley cocktails until the sun goes down. The town is equally a party town for the North Americans in their Spring Break and as a destination for those who seek a quiet R & R’s. It offers a variety of water sports activities for visitors such crystal clear-water snorkeling, scuba-diving, kayaking and sailing as well as diverse nightlife and duty-free shopping. The big all-inclusive resorts are located well outside the city. The city itself, however, is an entirely different face – it is a bustling mix of cars and people with all the discomfort that comes with it which gives you an uncensored and gritty slice of Jamaican life.

Bob Marley Cocktail
Bob Marley Cocktail

Mo Bay (as locals call it) offers Doctor’s Cave beach and it is one of the most famous beaches in Jamaica. The beach is clean and has beautiful warm turquoise-coloured water. It is open to the public. Snorkelling and scuba-diving gears can be hired here.

We took a day trip to the famous Dunn Waterfalls in Ocho Rios which took us just over 1.5 hours to get there. The Dunn Waterfalls is 180 feet high and 600 feet long. The waterfalls are terraced like stairs and the waterfalls down cascade beautifully. There are a number of small lagoons that are interspersed among the vertical sections of the falls. We joined a tour group to climb up the waterfalls which is a popular tourist activity. It took about 1.5 hours to climb with short breaks for photographs and video recordings taken by the guides. There are stairs located along the waterfalls, for those who do not want to get wet or are unable to manage the climb on the rocky, uneven and slippery terrain of the actual waterfalls. We climbed up the waterfalls like a hand-holding human chain led by our funny tour guide. The climb is relatively hard particularly if you are unfit and the hand-holding chain provides a bit more stability. It was recommended not to take a camera so I didn’t (hence, the google images) but the tour guides took photographs and videos.

Dunns Waterfalls (google image)
Dunns Waterfalls (google image)
Dunns Waterfalls (google image)
Dunns Waterfalls (google image)

TIP: All inclusive accommodation is recommended.

Clifton Gardens

View from Bacino Cafe
View from Bacino Cafe
Netted Beach
Netted Beach
Resting Yatchs
Resting Yatchs
Boats at the Beach
Boats at the Beach
Wharf - Looking Back at the Park
Wharf – Looking Back at the Park
Wharf
Wharf

Clifton Gardens is located in Mosman which is one of the affluent suburbs North of Sydney.  Clifton Gardens is a beautiful family park with a stunning view of Chowder Bay. The park features a relatively small beach and a netted swimming bath which is perfect for young children and it is enclosed by a wharf which is popular for fishing enthusiasts. There is no waves in this beach as it is sheltered by the cliffs on both ends of the park. The park has a huge grass area for family picnics with many undercover table seatings. It has electric barbecue facilities with many taps and bubblers scattered around. It also offers a covered and sheltered playground for the little ones as well as a path for little bike, skateboard and scooter riders.

On the Southern end of the park, there is a walking track that will take you to Taronga Zoo. On the Northen end of the park towards Bacino Cafe, if you head up towards Ripples Restaurant or the scuba diving school, you will find a walking track that will take you to Balmoral Beach.

Tip: In Summer months, this park can get really busy, however, the carpark is quite small. It is recommended to come here early, otherwise, you will end up parking on the hilly streets along the residential area. The parking is not free either.

Chichen Itza

El Castillo Pyramid
El Castillo Pyramid
Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza
Ruins
Ruins
Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza
Souvenirs
Souvenirs
Time Carrier
Time Carrier
Colourful Mexican Plates
Colourful Mexican Plates
Masks
Masks

Chichen Itza (means “at the mouth of the well of Itza “) is the most famous and best restored among the Mayan ruins in Yucatán, Mexico and it is 2nd most visited archeological site of Mexico. We took a luxury bus tour from Cancun that served as unlimited shots of tequila and Mexican beer. The tour guide was almost funny with his memorized punchlines. On the way, we stopped at probably one of the biggest souvenir shops in Yucatan.

The Chichen Itza archaeological site contains numerous ruins built by the Maya civilization around 1000 years ago. Chichen Itza was tremendously overcrowded. Every man and his dog was there to gawk at one of the seven wonders of the world. The restoration and the history behind it will impress even the most jaded tourist. The mysteries of the Mayan astronomical calendar were articulately explained by our tourist guide and were made clear when one understands the design of the ‘time temples’. Other than a few minor passageways, climbing on the structures is not allowed. The central building of the site is the remarkable Kukulcán Pyramid or El Castillo (The Castle). Its four sides contain 365 steps (depicting the solar year), 52 panels (for each year in the Mayan century as well as each week in the solar year) and 18 terraces (for the 18 months in the religious year). Not considering the Louvre Pyramid in Paris and Luxor Pyramid in Las Vegas, this the first pyramid I saw.

Chichen Itza was also populated by hawkers and tacky souvenirs vendors and we were warned to just ignore them particularly if they are shouting that the souvenirs only cost $1. It was an amazing and unforgettable experience to see this spectacular wonder even though our Mexican experience has third world inconveniences and we knew we were consistently and blatantly ripped off, the trip was certainly worth it.

TIP: Never go there in Mexican Summer. The killer heat will…kill you. Bring a hat, sunscreen and lots of water.

Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres
Beach Huts For Hire
Beach Huts For Hire
Souvenirs
Souvenirs
Souvenirs
Souvenirs
Fishing Boats
Fishing Boats
Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres is 30 minutes to an hour ferry ride from Cancun depending on which ferry you ended up onboarding. It is an island off Cancun. It’s small and reasonable quiet. If you decide to check out the markets, the persistent shop assistants from the tacky souvenirs shops are unavoidable. There are many restaurants along the beach ready to provide good customer service and serve a variety of delicious Mexican cocktails with mozarella sticks and bufallo chicken wings. You will also find roaming Mexican female masseuse offering a nice relaxing massage whilst you smell the scent of sea salt and listen to the waves of the Carribean Sea. Ahhh, life is good.

TIP: The price of the huts for hire along the beach are included in your minimum food order.

Cancun

An aerial view of Hotel Zone of Cancun  (image from Google)
An aerial view of Hotel Zone of Cancun (image from Google)
Cancun Sunset
Cancun Sunset
Pencil Souvenirs
Pencil Souvenirs
Wall Art
Wall Art
Warm Turquoise Water
Warm Turquoise Water
We stayed  in Casa Magna Marriott. (image from Google)
We stayed in Casa Magna Marriott. (image from Google)
Cancun Wharf
Cancun Wharf
Hard Rock Cafe, Cancun
Hard Rock Cafe, Cancun
Souvenirs
Souvenirs
Sparkly Mexican Hats
Sparkly Mexican Hats
Downtown
Downtown

In the northeast coast of the Yucatán Peninsula lies a major world-renowned tourist destination that is Cancun. The city is located on the Caribbean Sea and is one of the easternmost points in Mexico.

Cancun is unbeaten in its ability to offer a tropical paradise with natural beauty, cultural and historical treasures and a plethora of activities with modern conveniences. It is home to the world’s second largest barrier reef which makes it an an ideal place for scuba diving and snorkeling. There are a variety of accommodations that ranges from luxurious villas to all-inclusives and all-inclusive resorts budget hotels for kids and romantic getaways.

My impression of Cancun is mad. I was there with my husband without the kids. Happy dance! The Mexicans doted on us Aussies as they don’t see many of us in that part of the world. The souvenir vendors and tour providers ripped us off blatantly. The restaurants fed us Argentinian steaks, tacos and mozzarella sticks ( and by the way, they don’t have Burritos in Mexico). We saw Mexico’s amazing beauty of the Caribbean ocean, the Mayan’s ancient culture and history and we learned the tricks of the trade on the chaos in their streets whilst drinking tequila and sangria alternately…

We visited Isla Mujeres and Chichen Itza and I have a dedicated post for the two places.

Mexican Bar
Mexican Bar
Mixing Sangria at our Table
Mixing Sangria at our Table
Mixing Sangria
Mixing Sangria

TIP: Be vigilant in Cancun downtown and allow yourself to be ripped off as a part of your Mexican culture experience. 😀

Denarau Island

Nadi Bay, Fiji
Nadi Bay, Fiji
Nadi Bay
Nadi Bay
Denarau Port
Denarau Port
Sheraton at Denarau Island
Sheraton at Denarau Island
Souvenirs
Souvenirs
Souvenirs
Souvenirs
View from our room
View from our room
Tropical Twilight
Tropical Twilight

Denarau Island is situated 20 minutes-drive south of Nadi. It is a man-made development of waterways and gardens. It boasts one of the world’s finest golf courses. Denarau Marina is also in the island and the base for many transfers and cruise operators. The island is the home for many beachfront five-star-hotels such Westin Denarau Island Resort & Spa, Sheraton Fiji Resort, Sheraton Denarau Villas, Hilton and the Radisson Fiji. The resorts (I could only speak of Sheraton and Westin given that’s where we stayed) without saying provides 5-star-facilities and service. Stay in the resort pools whilst working on your tan and drinking delicious Fijian cocktails and forget about the beach. It is not white sand as you may expect after looking at some tourist brochures. The beach is disappointingly muddy so it’s best to experience Fijian stunning white beaches in the islands if that’s what you are hoping for. I honestly felt sorry for any fish that live there.

Denarau Island has a ‘Bula Bus’ – a shuttle that continuously goes around the island. And if you stay in Sheraton or Westin, you could equally enjoy and use both hotel facilities as they are managed by the same company. I am inclined to say that there is no reason why you should go to Nadi unless you after some third world experience.

TIP: When the package says ‘Kids Eat Free’, expect to pay double for your main meals. There is a good selection of restaurants at the Marina with authentic and reasonably priced Fijian and international food. Also, protect yourself from the sand flies.